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Consumer groups want blood over ‘Comeleak’

OUTRAGED consumer advocacy groups, information technology professionals and concerned voters are considering bringing complaints for the impeachment of election officials after a massive leak of personal details of more than 55 million registered voters from a database of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The hacking of the Comelec’s database, now known as “Comeleak,” could lead to failure of elections and exposed millions of registered voters to the risk of identity theft, the angry groups said during a forum in Makati City on Saturday.

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“We have to teach the Comelec a lesson … Impeachment is the only way to hold the impeachable officials of the Comelec accountable,” Tonyo Cruz of TXTPower, a consumer advocacy group composed of cell phone users, said.

LOOK: Comelec website hacked

Can’t be used for fraud

The Comelec had no comment on Saturday on the impeachment threat.

But James Jimenez, spokesperson for the commission, said the leaked data could not be used for electoral fraud.

“No. That’s one of the things we have always been sure of. Because of the elections, we have different sets of computers. They will not be run on the same servers. We will not even use that website,” Jimenez said.

“We have personal verification on Election Day. We will not be using a polluted source,” he added.

Jimenez also denied the Comelec website was unprotected.

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“No one in this day and age would put out a website without some sort of protection,” he said.

“But we have to remember that hacking attempts are continuous attempts over time until they are able to find a way,” he said.

“We never denied the breach happened. We know the breach happened,” he said.

On Friday, Jimenez, said the leak would not affect the integrity of national elections on May 9, as the automated balloting would be run on a different server, not on the one that was hacked.

National Bureau of Investigation agents arrested a suspect in the hacking of the Comelec’s website last month, Paul Biteng, 23, a new graduate of information technology, in his home in Manila on Wednesday night.

READ: Comelec hacker arrested, asks NBI chief for a selfie

NBI officials said they were hunting down Biteng’s alleged accomplices, believed to be members of the hacker group Anonymous Philippines.

The second group is believed to be behind the massive leak of data from the Comelec’s website containing personal information of more than 55 million registered voters.

Possible consequences

Reginald Tongol, a lawyer and information technology professional, spoke about the possible consequences of the leak at the Makati forum.

“The elections will push through by hook or by crook. It would be more of a failure of elections or massive fraud,” Tongol said.

He said it would be easy to fake IDs, as the leak would give fraudsters a pool of information to use.

READ:  Hackers forged Palace site

“Before they could fake IDs with fictitious details. But now the information can be accurate,” he said.

Lawyer Toby Purisima said the people and the Comelec should be more vigilant now because of the leak.

According to consumer advocates at the forum, the Comelec may still be responsible even if the leak does not affect next month’s elections. With reports from Estrella Torres, Leila B. Salaverria, Nikko Dizon and AP

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